Under the Kids Ride Free program, students can ride for free on RideOn and metro buses
On Tuesday, Oct. 1, all Montgomery County youth could ride free on RideOn buses and select Metro bus routes by carrying a Youth Cruiser SmarTrip Card under the updated Kids Ride Free program, an initiative by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT).
The Kids Ride Free program previously allowed students free access to Ride On and Metro buses on weekdays between 2-8 p.m. if they showed bus drivers their school-issued student ID cards. Students now ride buses for free at any time using a Youth Cruiser SmarTrip Card, which they can obtain from participating schools' administrative offices.
Blazers must fill out an application form (a Spanish form is also available) and bring it to the guidance office to receive their card. The cards have no stored value, but Blazers who wish to use the card for Metro buses and Metrorail may add money to the card.
The transition to the new program began with a "grace period" between July 1 and Oct. 1, during which students could use their student ID cards while obtaining the new Youth Cruiser SmarTrip Card.
Montgomery County Council member Evan Glass, who is part of the county's Transportation and Environment Committee, first introduced the idea to support students who struggle to pay for public transportation. "There's no reason a student should be walking in the cold or rain because they couldn't afford bus fare. No student should ever miss out on a job or internship because they didn't have a reliable way of getting home," Glass said.
Blair junior Talia Nesin, a member of Montgomery County's Commission on Children and Youth, agreed that all students should be able to ride free all the time, including on weekends and holidays. "Just being able to go around… people have jobs on weekends and internships on weekends, and if your parents can't drive you, this [program] can be a big asset," Nesin said.
The county also switched to the new Youth Cruiser cards so buses can collect data when students scan their card at the front of the bus instead of simply flashing their student ID at the bus driver. The Metro's data collection software, Trace, gathers information on the number of students using the Metro system. The transition to Youth Cruiser SmarTrip Cards has both benefited Montgomery County students and served the Metro system's interests.
Yuri Kim. Hey, I'm Yuri and I'm a junior :) When I'm not on SCO, I'm listening to music, overusing emojis, and/or working on another strange arts-and-crafts project. More »